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If this is how god works, I refuse to follow him January 13, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in God, Haiti, thoughts.
5 comments

My heart has been broken seeing the suffering and devastation in Haiti. Port-au-Prince flattened. Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, killed. More injured than will ever be counted. Children orphaned. Mothers left childless. Homes of both the rich and the poor damaged or destroyed.

How does one process this much pain? How do we even comprehend it? How do we understand or see the hand of God in the midst of this?

I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t have a well-developed Theology of Suffering. I don’t know how a loving God allows bad things to happen. I don’t know why babies die or floods kill thousands or millions are killed in wars or children are molested. I don’t have answers for the seemingly random pain in our individual lives and certainly can’t answer for the corporate pain caused by disasters such as the Haitian earthquake. I have struggled with the question of pain and found there are no satisfactory answers.  The best I can do is accept the questions, acknowledge the pain and work to alleviate it.

There are some who think they have the answers. They think they speak for God and give reasons for the pain. Today Pat Robertson claimed the Haitians brought this destruction down on themselves, that God allowed it because of the history of the country. I’m angry at his words and angry at how he misuses the name of God to spew his hate. I’m angry that this man soils the name of Christ and that this is the “Christian” reaction seen by the world.

At the same time I feel sorry for the Pat Robertsons of the world. I’m sad that the only God they know is vengeful and angry. I’m sad that their life is lived in fear of doing something to piss off God so much that he could strike them, or their descendants, dead. If their god is the true god, I want nothing to do with him.

It’s hard to see the devastation, to embrace the questions, to accept that we may never understand, and still believe. Keep our hearts broken and let us somehow be the hands of God to the hurting world.

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My Inner Idealist January 9, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in thoughts.
2 comments

Pessimists are usually right. Optimists are usually wrong. All the great change in the world has been done by optimists. I want to be an optimist and work for change.  ~Thomas Friedman (heard on NPR and loosely quoted)

The quote above could just as easily have said “Cynics are usually right. Idealists are usually wrong.” Most of us start our lives as idealists. We believe we are invincible and not only can but will change the world. Somewhere along the way we lose that spark. We realize we are weak and the battle is tough. Or maybe it’s as simple as life getting in the way. Jobs, children, mortages, yard work, cars, committees, and the myriad of life’s aches and pains all work against us to take the shine off of our plans to make a difference.

I like to think I’m not a pessimist (although my friends and family might disagree) but I am most definitely a cynic. Although it seems so very long ago, I once had plans to change the world. My life was going to make a real difference. Somewhere along the way, I lost that idealistic spark. Oh it’s not that I believe my life has been wasted, or that I have done nothing important — I have four beautiful, engaging, headstrong, idealistic young adults that prove otherwise. But now that my season of life is changing, my focus needs to change as well.

Is it possible to crack through the cynical shell and find my inner optimist? The weight of work and bills and responsibility isn’t going to go away. Is it possible to carry that responsibility in such a way that there is still room to do “something important” with my life? I’m inspired hearing stories about people who found their calling later in life. It gives me hope that I too can be more than a middle-aged corporate clone.

The trick is not to sit back and wait for the spark to simply show up some day. I need to be actively looking for inspiration.  Is it possible to crack my cynical shell by consciously thinking idealistically? If my initial reaction is to think “There is no way that would work!”, what if I took a deep breath and purposely thought “Wow! What if that was possible? Can I be part of making it happen?”

Most importantly, I want to move past thinking about change and start living it.